Life Without Air | Daisy Lafarge | Granta

  • Published: 05/11/2020
  • ISBN: 9781783786336
  • 134x20mm
  • 96 pages

Life Without Air

Daisy Lafarge


“Whip-smart, sonically gorgeous” – Rae Armantrout, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning Versed

When Louis Pasteur observed the process of fermentation, he noted that, while most organisms perished from lack of oxygen, some were able to thrive as ‘life without air’. In this capricious, dreamlike collection, characters and scenes traverse states of airlessness, from suffocating relationships and institutions, to toxic environments and ecstatic asphyxiations.

Both compassionate and ecologically nuanced, this innovative collection bridges poetry and prose to interrogate the conditions necessary for survival.

Startlingly fresh, at once assertive and tender, light and dark, she manages to be consistently surprising-often in unexpected ways. The range of work showcased here is impressive in itself; add the dry wit, a flare for the surreal and bright flashes of lost reality [...] and try not to be wholly engaged, refreshed and enthused

Janice Galloway

'Daisy Lafarge's Life Without Air is a whip-smart, sonically gorgeous exploration of the personal, cultural, and historical ties that bind us in literally and figuratively toxic relationships. From the marram beach grass that supports the dunes that threaten to choke it in "Desecration Air" to the toxic lakes created by rare earth mining that power our "green" technologies in "Dredging Baotou Lake," Lafarge shows us how deeply embedded we are with what harms us. These poems are as subtle and complex as the insidious relationships they illustrate. Life Without Air is the right book for our far-gone moment

Rae Armantrout, author of Pulitzer Prized winning, Versed

The eye's visual field is only 5%, only 5% of what we see is in focus. Daisy Lafarge's poems specialise in reclaiming what we lose to habitual perception, and her language has the directness and exactitude of a specialised lexis; not jargon, but a methodical application to its subject. Daisy's poems look through a microscope: her language like a lens delicately rendering to make sense of things; a view so complicated by its alert optics and detailing that we lose an ordinary sense of what it is we're looking at; but what we gain is a heightened sense of its surfaces, its light, its mechanics. We exchange the outlines of life for a small, truer piece of the matter itself. Like pond water pushed through a soda stream, or language diffusing through the permeable membrane of the wall of the cell, exchanging complex sugars, changing its behaviour

Jack Underwood, author of, Happiness

The Author

Daisy Lafarge was born in Hastings and studied at the University of Edinburgh. Her debut novel, Paul, is forthcoming from Granta Books. She has published two pamphlets of poetry: understudies for air (Sad Press, 2017) and capriccio (SPAM Press, 2019), and her visual work has been exhibited in galleries such as Tate St Ives and Talbot Rice Gallery. She has received an Eric Gregory Award and a Betty Trask Award, and was runner-up in the 2018 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award. Daisy is currently working on Lovebug – a book about infection and intimacy – for a practice-based PhD at the University of Glasgow. Life Without Air is her first collection of poetry.

More about the author →

Daisy Lafarge on

Essays & Memoir | The Online Edition

The Doe

Daisy Lafarge

‘Never uncomplicated, affection between species is the cup of temperance whose waters run in both directions.’

Art & Photography | Granta 149, Europe


Nicola Lo Calzo & Daisy Lafarge

‘It’s perhaps a truism that acts of devotion both make and unmake the devotional object.’ Daisy Lafarge introduces the photographs of Nicola Lo Calzo.